Almost done in South Africa but it seems an awful long time since England were still involved. Luke Harvey tries to look forward four years to the next World Cup and wonders where our version of Mesut Ozil might come from …
Salut! Sunderland’s World Cup coverage has betrayed an uncanny resemblance to Christmas day in the Harvey household.
Much as we begin our Christmas Day as a united and happy family, we also began the World Cup with arms linked and faces smiling; we were ready to will England to victory.
And much like Christmas Day, it’s all ended in rather petty squabbling.
Disputes on the website have emerged and divided the board’s contributors over who really should be ashamed following France’s shockingly early departure. Was it the childish Nicolas Anelka with his juvenile insults? Was it Raymond Domenech’s overall lack of knowledge in management?
Could it be Patrice Evra for leading the players in not getting off the bus to train? Or Sidney Govou. And now, thanks in part to a contributor’s goalkeeping son, the once clear no-tolerance view on cheating we held here looks murkier than ever.
There is one area where we all remain in collective agreement though, and that is that England are really not very good, certainly not as good as some people thought. While the reasons for that remain a contentious issue – manager, players, media, ball, altitude, so on and so forth have all been blamed – we’ll stick with the topic of England for now.
I recalled watching the television and saying: “What a player he is, I’d love to have a player like him here,” as Mesut Ozil humiliated England in 2009. It was the Under 21 Championships final and having followed the tournament from start to end, as I always do, I saw Mesut Ozil extinguishing any England passion I had left inside me as he and his cohorts ripped us apart with minimal effort.
We couldn’t even get near them, let alone beat them and they put four goals past us (then as now), romping their way to the trophy. I knew better than to rant and rave to my friends about this young Turkish/German player who had so convincingly made our leading youngsters look very average though, I’d only be met with replies of disinterest.
But a year later Ozil was back to haunt us once more. As he latched onto a counter attack – racing past Barry as if he was standing still and then setting up Muller for an easy tap in, I made the very same remark once more. This time met with unanimous agreement from everyone around me.
What our country needs is a playmaker with remarkable similarities to Ozil. For all the plaudits our fans may heap onto Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard, neither of these extravagantly paid players came close to recreating the creativity and vision that came from the Werder Bremen based Ozil, who is reportedly earning “only” £20,000 a week.
It would appear that I’m not the only one to realise that we miss this type of player in the centre of the pitch. Sport.co.uk has released a list of who England’s top 10 playmakers could be at the 2014 World Cup, even though the current World Cup is yet to finish. They are looking to the England of the future, the 2014 World Cup contesting England, an England who will be under the management of a man to be decided at a later date. And if you ask me my opinions on the list, well it doesn’t look very rosy if this truly is the list of players who we expect to make the best playmakers in four years time.
When the World Cup comes, we will have a clearer idea over who is likely to be playing in what position for the tournament. Until then we have to imagine, or maybe hope, that there could be the emergence of a gem of a player, someone who will command a place in the England set-up immediately, and someone on whom we can pin our hopes and expectations.
We all thought the man who would feel no pressure at this tournament was Wayne Rooney. However, following Rooney’s poor display, Sir Alex Ferguson has told us the expectations on Rooney “were too great”. Whether these high expectations were also the reason for Rooney’s inability to run, jump or look remotely interested in any of the matches whatsoever remains to be confirmed.
The list includes players who participated in this World Cup, several highly touted youngsters, a player who had a loan stint at Carlisle United eight years ago and even a Spanish player – such is the apparent lack of players who can bear the burden of being England’s playmaker.
The list in full is as follows: Joe Cole, Jack Wilshere, Jack Rodwell, Steven Gerrard, James Milner, Fabian Delph, Tom Huddlestone, John Bostock, Leon Osman and… err… Mikel Arteta.
It’s an obvious list which cites all the candidates you would expect to see on a something of this nature. There is very little further research or knowledge that has seemingly been applied to it and no doubt Arteta’s inclusion is merely in jest, but it does seem to beg one major question:
Where exactly is Jordan Henderson in all this?